FEATURE: Bonnie & The Bonnettes – A Look Back At 2021 | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Narc. Magazine Online

Reliably informed

Image by TJMov

So, how was your 2021?

Where do we start? This year has been busier than we could have ever imagined considering how 2020 went. We hit the ground running with creating our digital series Boogie On Up with the amazing TJMov and MXYM, we revamped our debut theatre show Drag Me to Love and toured it around the country with Paines Plough’s pop-up venue Roundabout, The House of Love made their return with our regional tour of The BonBons Cabaret and we’ve had the best time performing Bonnie and Fanny’s Christmas Spectacular at Live Theatre with the amazing Your Aunt Fanny.

What was your best moment?

We’re going to be cheeky and have a few, because this year was a tough one! One of them has to be the Christmas show. Being able to bring something so joyful to one of our favourites, Live Theatre, with a hilarious group like Your Aunt Fanny has been truly the cherry on top of the cake. In these uncertain times, a little bit of raucous joy goes a long long way!

Our digital series, Boogie On Up was also a stand out time for us this year. We hadn’t been able to be together and do what we do best for a really long time, so to be back together creating something to offer our audiences from home was really special!

Another one has to be getting to go on tour with the incredible Paines Plough! Getting to tour again after over a year out was just brilliant and it really reminded us why we love doing it so much, and being able to do it in Paines Plough’s Roundabout venue really was a Bucket List Moment for us all. We were able to visit places and people we’ve never seen before, and who have never seen our work. We went further south than we’ve ever been, and went to some cracking service stations (Wetherby reigns supreme and we will die on this hill).

And your worst moment?

Seeing theatre being affected by Covid again over these past few weeks has been really tough. We were lucky enough to get through our full Christmas show run, but we have taken the decision to cancel our New Years shows at Alphabetti for the well-being of The House of Love, Alphabetti staff and our amazing BonBons Cabaret audiences.

Witnessing the arts taking another big hit amidst this pandemic is really hard to take, but there is always a silver lining. Remember how bleak things looked for theatre last year? Well we’ve been able to bounce back and for Bonnie and The Bonnettes we have been crazy busy which after the time the industry has had, it’s felt incredibly sweet!

Who was your favourite band/artist this year?

This year it has to be LP. She’s a phenomenal vocalist and an incredible song writer. She makes gorgeous queer music and music videos often featuring herself and other queer people which is incredibly important and lovely to see!! She never seems to shy away from wearing her identity firmly on her sleeve and we just love to see it!! She’s just released her latest album, Churches, which we highly recommend. LP takes us to a whole different place! And she’s written for Celine Dion…what more could you want?

Your favourite song of the year?

We are quite biased but it really would have to be Worth Remembering by MXYM! Their lyrics together with the pop-punk vibes of this bop are lush. It makes you feel powerful just to listen. To be honest, any year you can ask us that question and we’re likely to name one of their songs. MXYM is totally worth remembering!

Recommended album?

It has to be Inside by Bo Burnham from his Netflix special of the same name. It might be a bold claim but we think it’s one of the best things to come out of 2021. How he manages to not only discuss isolation, mental health, institutionalised oppression, celebrity, cancel culture, but to do it with really catchy and beautiful music is a testament to his skill. If you’re a performer who deals with/has dealt with mental health problems (haven’t we all?) then it’s like looking into an off-beat, beautiful observed mirror. It makes Becky cry and we’ve been singing along to it since it came out.

Also, not technically 2021 but we are so excited for Years and Year’s new album which is out on the 7th January so that’s close enough right?! We plan to go and see Olly Alexander in February, we can’t wait!

Favourite TV show of the year?

Speaking of Olly Alexander, the TV show that stands out for all three of us has to be It’s A Sin. An incredibly well told story of young gay men and their allies during the height of the HIV and AIDS epidemics in the 1980’s, it is so joyful and heartbreaking and something you cannot stop watching once you start. For us it’s one of the best bits of British Television this year, brilliantly told from beginning to end.

Your favourite film?

It’s technically a documentary film, but Pray Away directed by Kristine Stolakis follows survivors of conversion therapy in America and is such an important watch. It feels like, given the topic, it would really take it’s toll on you, and it does, but it’s surprisingly hopeful. It follows a group of breakaway evangelicals who used to carry out the practice of conversion therapy, as well as those who underwent the ‘treatment’ and how it’s affected them since. But don’t worry, it’s got a lot of hopeful tales of people finding their true, beautiful queer selves again, and learning to love themselves for exactly as they are.

Best book you read?

Not that new of a book but this year Becky and Cameron both read Boy Parts by Eliza Clark and OH MY GOD! Neither of them could put it down! Becky finished it in two days. It blends together gritty themes with a streak of dark humour and queerness, and it’s set in Newcastle! What more do you want?! For anyone who is a fan of thrillers or true crime or anti-heroes we highly recommend it!

Best podcast?

Now we are massively biased but our favourite new podcast of 2021 is hands down Match Made in Seven by Your Aunt Fanny who are just bloody lovely! They focus each episode on one of the 7 deadly sins and how they relate to it and honestly there were times Becky had to pull over in her car because she was laughing so hard! So relatable and honest and hilarious, 10/10 recommend.

Favourite venue of the year?

We feel like we can’t possibly name just one favourite after the past (nearly) two years and everything they’ve brought us. The venues up here in the North East, and for us especially Newcastle, have been so incredibly supportive of artists during this time, and have really tried their best to facilitate work in whatever way it could be produced at the time. We do think we have to give shout outs to two Newcastle venues though, who have been completely amazing to us, both historically and over the course of this pandemic so far. Live Theatre and Alphabetti Theatre have been wonderful! From allowing us to rehearse and create work safely in their buildings, to giving us performance opportunities when the world was closed and since it’s opened up again. They really do have our hearts and our gratitude. Two incredible North East venues and long may they reign!

What was your favourite gig/show of the year?

This year, when lucky enough to be in London on tour, we managed to swing by the finals of Man Up, an incredible drag king competition! The talent was through the roof and it was so inspirational. Especially being from a part of the country where there are less Drag Kings, it was a delight to see so many. What made it so special was the massive spectrum of kinging that there was, every performer was unique and were up there challenging what drag kinging can be.

Any upcoming artists we should keep an eye out for in 2022?

We would say keep a massive eye on the Newcastle drag scene – there are some absolute corkers out there! We’ve been attending the amazing open drag night at Bobby’s recently and as well as taking to the stage ourselves, we’ve seen such an exciting array of drag just during our short time on the scene. The night is run fortnightly by the wonderful Pebble Dash, who is regularly supported by her drag daughter Laila Sagittaria who, trust us, is one to look out for!! They also invited us to perform at their World Aids Day fundraiser event organised and hosted by the legendary Wendy Towers who you can catch regularly at Bobby’s. GO!

And finally, what has next year got in store for you?

Next year is looking super exciting for Bonnie and The Bonnettes. We look to extend the Drag Me to Love tour over the first part of the year, with its first outing at Live Theatre in February (other venues to be announced soon).

We have a number of new projects on the horizon which we are still keeping under our hats for now, but it’s safe to say that you’re going to see Bonnie and The Bonnettes like you’ve never seen them before. I think it’s OK for us to let you know that we are going to be teaming up with some phenomenal Northern theatre powerhouses in 2022!

And of course The House of Love will be back for more of The BonBons Cabaret in 2022! We’ve been planning the next year of BonBons brilliance and it’s going to be a good one!

Like this story? Share it!

Subscribe to our mailout